27 best Android apps of all time
Here it is ladies and gentlemen. The creme de la creme. The apps that most people will swear that they cannot live without. These apps have become ubiquitous with Android and if you’re looking for good stuff it’s assumed that you have this stuff already. It’s quite a long list so take your time and go through it. Enjoy the best Android apps that the Google Play Store has to offer.
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Amazon has been a strong force in the Android ecosystem for a long time and we don’t expect that to change anytime soon. They’ve done a lot of apps, and really three of them could go here. Of course, there’s the Amazon shopping app (linked using the button below) which provides one of the best online retail experiences period. Also in the Amazon family is the Amazon Kindle app which is still among the best ebook platforms available. Finally, there is the Amazon Appstore which is one of the only non-Google Play stores worth following. It’s famous for its free apps and games promotions and worth a shot.
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Beautiful Widgets rose to fame during the days when everyone wanted the HTC Sense clock and weather combo widget but didn’t want an HTC device. It comes with weather, clock, and weather/clock combo widgets along with toggles to turn off various things like Bluetooth, WiFi, NFC, etc. There are hundreds upon hundreds of themes to choose from and you should be able to find one that suits your tastes. It’s inexpensive and it works very well.
Dropbox is about as close to a household name as you can get in the cloud storage space. It’s a wildly popular service that offers up cloud storage at a reasonable rate and usually has promotions going on to get you some extra space. The app is clean, simple, and allows you to do things like manage your Dropbox and auto-upload your photos to the service. If you need cloud storage and nothing else, this is a great option.
There are a ton of great file explorers out there, but the one people keep circling back to is ES File Explorer. It is literally packed with features including FTP server support, connecting to things via WiFi, root explorer for you root users out there, and a semi-modern interface. Of course, it can also do all the usual stuff with files such as share them, compress them, and move them (if your OS allows, sorry KitKat owners). It’s also totally free and always has been which is what really makes this such a popular choice.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Evernote has long been the pinnacle of note taking on Android. It has a metric ton of features and deep organization capabilities. You can create notebooks, access your Evernote content cross-platform, and each note can have text, lists, photos, videos, or audio. It’s a great platform for work, play, or even something simple like house work. Most of the important features are in the free version while everything is unlocked if you buy the subscription.
Google Chrome Browser is, pound-for-pound, the best browser for Android. It has the advantage of having partial integration with the OS, a fervent update schedule, and cross-platform sign-in support. Google is also very open about their Chrome platform as you can get the Chrome beta app and the Chrome Dev app that allows you to see features long before they actually get to the stable version. It’s a great experience and most Android devices already have this browser installed.
Google Drive is probably the most powerful productivity tool in all of Android. Inside its massive borders you’ll find Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and Google Keep. Google Drive serves as the cloud storage platform while the various tools allow you to do all sorts of things. The platform boasts Microsoft Office file support, live collaboration, 15GB of free cloud storage, direct integration with Gmail, and Google Keep is a note taking application that feeds into it with its own platform. This is how people on Android get things done.
The Google Play Store is a vast and wondrous place. Not only can you get apps, but you can also get movies, music, TV shows, books, magazines, and all sorts of other content. To engage with this content, you’ll need an app from Google’s entertainment suite which includes Google Play Games, Google Play Music, Google Play Movies and TV, Google Play Newsstand, and Google Play Books. Each has their own set of special features but they all connect to your Google Play account. You already use the Play Store for apps and games, why not try it out with these other things too?
Google Now Launcher is the best way to get a stock Google experience without being required to buy a Nexus device. It features integrated Google Now, a clean interface, and simple features. It’s not as full featured as something like Nova Launcher, but Google fans swear by this launcher as a simple, clean replacement for pretty much any bloated stock launcher. It’s a great option, it’s totally free, and worth checking out.
We sure did list a lot of Google apps, eh? It’s because Google knows how to take care of its own platform and that sentiment cannot be embodied more than with Google Photos. Google Photos is a photo storage service that is entirely free. You can upload as many videos and photos as you want and it’s directly tied to your Google account forever so you’ll be able to access these photos as soon as you sign into Google on any device. It’s a great way to backup, organize, and even edit your photos. You can set it to backup only under certain circumstances and it’s more efficient than other options.
HD Widgets is much like Beautiful Widgets. It’s a suite of widgets where you can choose between clock, weather, clock/weather combo, and toggle widgets. Unlike Beautiful Widgets, HD Widgets relies on a customizable skin so you can tinker and change the look of each widget to suit your needs. There are add-on themes such as Kairo and Colourform which add more color options and widget styles. There are widgets for both tablets and phones and this is about as good as it gets when it comes to clock/weather widgets.
[Price: Free / $4.99]
Backing up your applications and data is probably the most important thing that most people never do. Helium is a no-root-required backup application that seems to hit all the right marks. It comes with a desktop application and lets you backup stuff to your SD card or to your desktop for easy retrieval later. It’s true with the backup options in Android M will make apps like this obsolete someday, but that day is not today. Until M becomes a thing everyone has, apps like this should definitely be used.
IFTTT is a unique application that allows you to control what you device does by linking actions within applications together. For instance you can favorite an image on Instagram and then set it up in IFTTT for you to save that image to your Google Drive. Once you create the “recipe” (as they’re called) to do that, your device will save any image you favorite on Instagram to Google Drive. There are a metric ton of uses for this app and it’s limited only by your creativity and imagination. You can also find helpful recipes by doing a quick Google search to help give you ideas for good ones for you. There is also a second app called Do Button by IFTTT that allows you to make almost anything you do in If by IFTTT into a widget on your home screen.
[Price: $12 per year or $1 per month subscription]
LastPass is a password manager application that allows you to save all of your passwords to your account and then automatically log yourself into sites. This is incredibly handy on both Android and desktop, especially if you forget your passwords frequently. LastPass also features a password generator, a simple interface, and a cheap price tag. Many people swear by LastPass as the secure place for your passwords and we agree.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Microsoft has hit Android in a big way the last couple of years. The pinnacle of which is arguably the full porting of Microsoft Office to Android. The mobile version is a bit lacking but it is entirely functional and feeds directly into OneDrive the same way Google Docs feeds into Google Drive. The tablet versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are far more powerful and functional, but do come as three separate apps. If you use Microsoft Office on your computer, it’s definitely worth giving Microsoft Office on your phone/tablet a shot.
[Price: Free app, requires subscription]
When it comes to streaming video, one of the name on everyone’s list is Netflix. It requires a $7.99 (soon to be $8.99) per month subscription and offers thousands of titles that you can stream right to your device (and a number of other devices). It’s compatible with practically every facet of the Android experience including Chromecast, tablets, phones, and Android TV. It’s easy to use and it’s essentially ubiquitous with “online streaming” at this point.
[Price: Free / $4.00]
Nova Launcher is the “go-to” replacement launcher for people looking to get away from the stock offerings. It’s touted far and wide as one of the best and it has a large set of features and add-ons including theme support and a boat load of other customization options. It even has the “Okay, Google” hotword available on your home screen like you get with the Nexus 5. If you don’t like your stock launcher, this is a must have app to fix the problem.
[Price: Free / $4.00/year]
If you like streaming music for free and don’t mind a few advertisements every now and then, Pandora is probably the best app out there. It’s one of the few legitimately legal ways to get free music with nothing more than radio-style advertisements getting in the way. It’s used by millions around the world and it not only lets you listen to music to like but helps you discover new music that sounds like the music you like. You can get the premium service which removes many of the restrictions and the advertisements as well.
If you’re into podcasts, Pocket Casts is simply the best out there. You can use it to view audio or video podcasts, sync between your devices, switch between the dark and light theme, and enjoy its simple to use interface. You can even configure it to automatically download podcasts over WiFi or mobile data so your podcast is downloaded and ready to go when you need it. It’s light, fast, clean, and it does the job. It’s also updated on a frequent basis to bring plenty of fixes, improvements, and design updates.
There are a metric ton of music players out there. Some are free, some are paid, and many come with a bunch of unique features. However, when it comes to solid performance and great features, Poweramp is about as good as it gets. It comes with a slick interface, fast library scanning, and even a built-in, 10-band EQ. You can get a 15-day free trial to check it out, but the app will set you back a few bucks. If you need a flawless music experience for your local content, this is about as far as you need to go.
Pushbullet is an application that allows you to connect your computer to your Android device. You download this app and then the matching Chrome extension and then get everything connected. Once that’s done, your notifications will show up on your computer as well as your phone so you’ll always know what your phone is buzzing about. Over the last year, Pushbullet has also worked hard to allow you to interact with notifications such as answering texts and messages from some types of services like Whatsapp. It’s a great way to get your computer and phone connected.
[Price: Free / $2.99]
There are a lot of great alarm clock apps for Android. When you get right down to it, though, it’s the same functionality wrapped in different interfaces. All except one anyway and that’s Sleep As Android. This app actually analyses your sleep patterns to help you get a better night’s rest. Here’s how it works, you put the phone in your bed with you and it uses the accelerometer to measure how much and when you move. It’s really something different and unique. If you need a better alarm app, check it out.
[Price: Free / $10/month subscription]
Spotify is one of the best music streaming services available period. In a recent move, they made the service free to use on mobile which means you can get the same experience on mobile that you do on the desktop. If you don’t mind the ads, you can find tens of millions of songs that you love, create playlists, share playlists with friends, and just enjoy your tunes. It’s one of the few music streaming options that allows for on-demand play and the subscription service is reasonable if you want to go all out with no ads.
[Price: Free with in app purchases]
Third party keyboards are everywhere and that makes it easy to find the features you need. However, when it comes to the go-to keyboard that everyone recommends, the winner is Swiftkey. It recently went free with a number of themes that you can purchase for an additional charge. With it being free there is no reason not to dub this the winner of the third party keyboards. Some people like others better but generally speaking most people who don’t use the stock keyboards use SwiftKey.
If you like to tinker and play with your phone or you want it to do exactly what you want, then you want Tasker. This app can be difficult to use for beginners but once you get the hang of what’s going on, it’s a truly powerful app. You can make your phone do pretty much whatever you want it to do when you want it. A bonus is many NFC tag apps have Tasker plugins so you can even use this app to program your NFC tags beyond what you normally could before.
[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Todoist is a to-do list application that helps you keep track of all the things you have to do. It’s a powerful application with a simple interface and cross-platform support including native applications, a Chrome extension, and a web interface. You can categorize your items by things like work, home, etc and you can even add things like reminders, recurring events (i.e. clean the house every Sunday), and due dates. It also relies on a karma system that allows you to measure how productive you’ve been. Most of the features are available in the free version with the full version being unlocked if you decide to use the subscription.
Last on our list is Zedge. Zedge is one of the best apps available that can give you both wallpapers and ringtones. It has a huge selection of free ringtones and wallpapers for you to choose from. It’s just a matter of finding the ones you like. It’s free, everything in it is free, and it’s one of those highly rated apps a lot of people have but no one seems to talk about very often. It does have quite a few advertisements which can be annoying, but that’s easily mitigated by the sheer number of selections.
A lot of what makes an Android app great is subjective. What’s great to one person may not be so great to the next and what’s tolerable to one may not be tolerable to another. With that in mind, if there are any Android apps you think should be here, tell us about it in the comments. Also don’t forget to subscribe to our Android Apps Weekly newsletter if you want the latest Android apps and games news!